Tioga County 4-H youth thrive during uncertain times    Tioga County 4-H members didn’t get their usual opportunity to show off the animals they’ve raised, crops they’ve grown, and artwork they’ve created at a typical county fair this year. Instead of letting this year become a roadblock in their learning though, the youth worked harder than ever to master agricultural and artistic skills to present their projects to the community in unique ways.

In lieu of the traditional 4-H Livestock Auction held at the Tioga County Fair each year, youth learned to market their own livestock and secure buyers independently. Over 30 youth raised beef steers, hogs, sheep, goats, turkeys and chickens throughout the year, working hard to ensure that their livestock were well cared for and reached ideal sizes before selling them this summer.

With the unexpected additional time learning at home these past several months, 4-H members were able to put even more hours than usual into raising their animals. Although the pandemic stole many typical experiences from the youth since March, they found themselves able to be present to witness some of the more extraordinary moments of their animals’ life cycles – like farrowing, kidding and calving. The 4-H members took photos and videos of their animals to share with potential buyers and reached out personally to their community to secure buyers even without an auction. Every youth who had an animal to sell this summer successfully sold their animal. Tioga County 4-H is grateful to the local community for continuing to support these young farmers during this unconventional year.

4-H members were also still able to earn ribbons and recognition for the animals and projects that they put their efforts into this year. Tioga County 4-H offered in-person evaluations for the rabbits, cavy, turkeys and chickens that the youth had raised, and three in-person horse shows. These events were far from ordinary, with each family arriving by appointment to exhibit their animals for the judges and adhering to social distancing measures. Youth also had the option to exhibit their animals at their own homes if they preferred. Evaluators traveled throughout the county to 4-H families’ homes to evaluate beef steer, dairy cattle, hogs, sheep, goats, poultry and rabbits that the youth had raised. Kids got the chance to communicate with evaluators about their animals and what they learned this year, without needing to travel to a show. Many 4-H members also took advantage of an opportunity to present their projects virtually.

Over a hundred photos were submitted online to Tioga County 4-H, displaying what members have been working on throughout this year. Projects included animals, vegetables, decorated cakes, sewing work, paintings, felting, gardening and more. All items are being evaluated, and kids will receive ribbons for their work. To see photos of all of the projects entered online this year, “like” Tioga County 4-H on Facebook.

Tioga County 4-H is proud of all of our youth members, ages 5 through 18, who worked to accomplish their 4-H goals even during the pandemic. Over 60 local youth participated in at least one opportunity to have their animals and projects evaluated through 4-H this summer. The opportunities for youth to exhibit their work would not have been possible without the Tioga County Agricultural Society, all individuals who purchased livestock raised by 4-H members, Skyline Corral, Bryan’s Meat Cutting, Maple Creek Farm Poultry Processing, Ward & Van Scoy, G&B Farms, Scott Smith & Son, Rita Quinlan, and the numerous volunteers and parents who contributed their time and talents to 4-H.

To find out more about the Tioga County 4-H Program, contact the 4-H Office, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Tioga County at 607.687.4020.